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What Is IFTTT?

Quick Answer

IFTTT—If This, Then That—is a free web-based service that helps your apps and smart devices communicate with each other. IFTTT uses applets to define triggers (if this) to execute an action (then that). For example, if your phone senses you’re back in your home, then your Nest Cam will stop recording.

IFTTT has many existing applets, but you can create your own to fit your needs too. And with an array of service partners, ranging from Google Assistant to Android, IFTTT lets you easily automate your life and maintain your smart home products.

Man holding phone using IFTTT

What IFTTT can do

IFTTT uses conditional if/then statements to help services—like smart home products, popular apps, and more—talk to each other. It can set reminders for you, like to drink a glass of water every hour, and help you automate tasks.

Those tasks can be as simple as syncing your Instagram photos to Google Drive (if I post a photograph on my Instagram, then save it to a folder on Drive). It can also be more sophisticated: if my Fitbit registers I’m awake, then my smart coffee maker will start brewing. Essentially, IFTTT lets you enjoy the perks of automation by scheduling events so you don’t have to do it manually.

IFTTT can also help you get around compatibility issues with different smart devices. So even though your August Smart Lock isn’t compatible with your SmartThings hub, they both work with IFTTT, so that technology can bridge the communication gap. It’s a handy workaround to use your choice of smart home products with each other.

Because IFTTT is compatible with most smart home devices, there are endless possibilities for automation. Here are some examples of what you can do with IFTTT.

If This…

  • You change your Twitter profile picture…
  • You get into bed with a sleep-tracking mat…
  • You unlock your smart lock…
  • You lose your phone…

…Then That

  • …your Facebook photo will be updated too.
  • …your bedtime will be tracked in Google Sheets.
  • …the lights inside will automatically turn on.
  • …the Google Assistant will call it.

How to use IFTTT

Signing up for IFTTT is free and easy. Once you create your account, you can browse the IFTTT app or website to find an applet that interests you, then click a button to turn that applet on. Your device will ask you to connect the services involved in the applet so IFTTT can run them on your behalf.

How IFTTT works

Applets and services go hand in hand to make IFTTT work. Here’s how.

What are services?

Services make IFTTT integration possible, and currently, IFTTT supports over 550 services.

Services—formerly known as channels—are the apps, websites, and devices you can command with IFTTT. Services can be pretty much anything, from social media apps like Instagram to smart home devices like Google Home.

What are applets?

Applets connect two services to run automated tasks. Applets are made of two parts: the trigger (if this), and the action (then that). It helps to think of them as a recipe: the if is followed by the then, which results in a desired outcome. IFTTT currently supports over 54 million applets.

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Applets vs. recipes

IFTTT used to refer to applets as recipes but rebranded in 2016.

Applets can be powerful automation and productivity tools. They can also be really fun. You can tell Alexa to turn the AC on when you’re close to home. But you can also have IFTTT email you a picture of a disappointed Colin Farrell whenever you take a selfie on your mobile device.

There is often a delay between the trigger and the action, which depends on what service you’re using. A service that involves your email will probably take less than an hour. But a service involving a social media platform may take a few.

The IFTTT website has tons of applets to choose from, but you can also create your own to suit your own needs if you’re particularly savvy. You can make custom applets only after you’ve signed up for the IFTTT platform, which is separate from the website.

IFTTT integrations

IFTTT is versatile in that you can control tasks from your web browser, iOS device, or Android phone. It can also connect with all kinds of services. Here are some of the most notable services IFTTT works with, from smart hubs to mobile devices. You can check out the full list of integrations on the IFTTT website.

Smart hub assistants

You can use your mobile device to control smart devices connected to your smart hub assistant. Tell Alexa to lock the front door. Or set your SmartThings device to turn off during sunrise. IFTTT works with these smart hubs:

Social networks

With IFTTT applets, you can save your photos and posts across different social media platforms. Save your Instagram photos to Dropbox or automatically send vacation pictures to your family via Google Drive. Here are a few social networks that work with IFTTT:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Twitter

Security and monitoring systems

Keep your eye on your loved ones and loved things with IFTTT’s security services. Automatically turn on your Hue lights whenever your smart camera detects motion. Or track sound and motion events in a Google spreadsheet. Use IFTTT with any of these systems and devices:

Is IFTTT right for you?

IFTTT is a flexible, free tool that lets you automate your life and gives you a hands-off approach to daily tasks. It’s a great boost for your day-to-day life, and it has a lot of useful automated tasks to make life a little bit easier. Sign up for free.

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